If you only commit to canning one thing yourself I would recommend its this. Strawberry Jam is absolutely remarkable homemade however, applesauce is something that when made yourself, its absolutely out of this world. You can not compare store jarred applesauce to this. Every year at this time of year I’m obviously up to my ears in apples…seriously I’m close and every year I rush to get everything preserved or eaten in some way. One thing I remember from Autumn’s in Maine was our apple picking and then having apples on the porch in a tub or cooler for months and months, my step mom would pull some out, every now and then the smooshie ones would be come something so spectacular so wonderful, applesauce. Although it seems basic and almost a pain to make yourself its the simplicity of the recipe that makes all the difference in the world. You can buy it in the store easier and cheaper possibly, I’m not really sure but I do know that home made chunky applesauce that’s home canned is just about THE best thing on a winters day. Its a necessary relief. When there is icy snowy doom falling by the foot, I cant see out my windows because the snow is landsliding 50 pounds of snow off of my metal roof, my toes are turning purple because I simply WILL NOT turn up the heat (I’m frugal not cheap, and its better to use less energy anyway), this sauce nourishes me in more ways than I can describe.
Last year I ended up making A LOT and I mean A LOT of applesauce, many different varieties actually, and I still have plenty left over. The one that went almost immediately though was this basic chunky applesauce recipe. If you make this basic recipe I assure you that you’ll never want to buy the other stuff again. Theres nothing comparable, the basic recipe can be used to make the other variations by simply adding spice, blending smooth or even adding other fruits. If your a first time canner and somewhat skeptical this is the recipe I suggest you try first. Apples are about the easiest fruit to can as far as preservation goes due to its perfect acidity level. You want your fruits, vegetables or canned product to have an appropriate amount of acidity so that it keeps bacteria at bay. (This link has a great list of acidic and non acidic produce) It can be tricky to maintain crispness with apples though, if you’d like your apples whole for things such as canned apples in syrup or a pie filling you may have mush as a result, but applesauce and apple butters are surprisingly easy to make with phenomenal results. Although it can be intimidating I sure with the right resources and a little bit of practice you’ll be comfortable in no time.
Typically I try using the bruised, over ripe or simply “left over” apples for sauce but this year I had to make a batch right away. I make my applesauce usually with about 8-10 pounds of apples per batch if you really are reluctant to try canning you can make a smaller batch and simply refrigerate it. It can last in the fridge a fairly long time, however I doubt it will. (the spoon fulls here and there really add up!) Whether you serve this sauce with grilled cheese, a pork supper or you could even make pocket pies no matter what, they are sure to make your tummy smile.
Basic Chunky Applesauce
- 8-12 lbs apples (figure about 5-6 apples per half pint jar)
- 1/2 cup sugar (as needed to taste, honey or maple syrup are a good substitute but less economical)
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
- pinch salt
- * 1/2 cup +/- apple cider, apple juice or other liquid such as water or cranberry juice. (as needed in the bottom of the pot. You want to prevent burning but you don’t want too much liquid.)
Prepare your apples by washing them thoroughly, peeling them and coring them. Cut into chunks and place in a pot with the lemon juice and liquid as you prepare them. I use an apple slicer/corer combo. The traditional way to make sauce I believe is to simply wash and core the apples however I’ve found that little chunks and nibs get through and they are unpleasant. (I do not have a food mill and the attachment for my stand mixer had less than stellar results) Boil the apples until tender and completely soft. This should take 30 minutes to 45 minutes depending on the temperature you cook it at. Once the apples are thoroughly softened process through a food mill, seive or food processor for smooth sauce. For chunky applesauce use a potato masher and mash apples as chunky or smooth as you’d like. Keep sauce simmering as you place it into sterile mason jars. I usually run the jars while I’m making the applesauce. Since my dishwasher is ancient the long cycle is just about an hour which is what it usually takes me to clean the apples and make the sauce. (plus theres a heating option to keep them hot)
Fill your jars leaving 1/4″ head space, wipe rim clean and close them up. Process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes if your using 1 quart jars, 10 minutes for smaller jars. Follow directions on the jar packaging according to your altitude and location. Allow them to rest un touched for 24 hours. To check if the seals have set simply place your finger in the center of each lid and listen for a “popping” sound. If it is firm and does not pop your jar has sealed.
This recipe is the base for other variations of applesauce you can add spices to the sauce, I sometimes like cardamom, clove, allspice and ginger. You can puree it smoothly and heavily spice it for apple butter , add different fruits etc.
For Unsweetened , no sugar added applesauce: simply do not add the sugar. You can use water or unsweetened apple cider to prevent sticking